Congratulations to the GISSV Gold Team and their fabulous coaches for their 2-0 victory in the league championship! A first for the GISSV girls, but definitely not the last!
The Middle School Girls Gold Team, coached by Kate Jungnickel and Richard Denkhaus, has made it to the Championship game for the first time in GISSV history (they made it to the semi-final last year). With a record of 6-0-1, they were ranked #1 in the Small Schools Intermediate League and played 2nd place Hausner Lions. Just as the boys team faced Hausner in the championship in the past two years, the "rivalry" has now extended to the girls teams. ;)
The Championship Game
In a torrential winter downpour, the GISSV and Hausner Girls’ Soccer teams warmed up for their Championship game. They were drenched and shivering when the coaches called them to the tents for their pre-game briefings. But the shivering was as much from excitement as from the cold.
The GISSV “Golden Eagles”, with a regular season record of 5-0-1, were ranked #1 in the league and had just advanced to the Final after an exciting 4-2 win on Tuesday versus Sea Crest. But then the weather turned nasty and the flu took out three of the team’s players. They showed up at the field with only 11 girls. With no subs and three of their valuable offensive players - Valerie S., Emma M., Sarina C. - out due to illness, the #1 team entered the Championship with some trepidation, but with a belief that they could succeed. Coaches Jungnickel and Denkhaus, passionate advocates for GISSV soccer and with a deep knowledge of the game, had been instilling the girls with this belief since early September.
For Coach Jungnickel’s part, it had been a four year journey. In 2016, Coach Jungnickel came on board to coach GISSV’s first girls’ team. As with any young team, it was a struggle getting the players, building commitment and confidence, rallying the troops for away games, and working through demoralizing defeats against more established teams. But Coach Jungnickel’s sights were always set on that future day when the girls’ team would play in the Championship. On a cold rainy Thursday, January 16, 2020, that day had come.
When the kickoff whistle sounded, the rain had slowed to a drizzle and the Eagles immediately turned their excitement into constant pressure on Hausner’s half of the field. They maintained that pressure throughout the first 30 minutes of the game. Multiple shots were taken by Lucy B. and Kassandra T. (never enough for the excited fans), but time and time again the Hausner goalie stood well or a last defender got a piece of the ball before it could be driven into the net. At half-time, the sun was shining but the score was 0-0 and thoughts of a similar second half raised the question of possible overtime play and a shootout for tie breaker. But Coach Jungknickel could be heard telling a player, “It’s not gonna happen! We’re going to score!”
When the girls took the field again for second half, it was clear that the lack of subs was beginning to slow the Eagles down a bit and Hausner began working the ball more consistently into the Eagles’ half of the field. Repeated attacks down the side of the field brought Hausner into striking distance, but the defense - consisting of Liesel C., Anna P., Kristen M., and Esther R., and Goalie Emma L. - came through. GISSV did not let Hausner’s attacks go without answer, but the Eagles’ lead striker, 8th grader Clara G., wasn’t landing the shots she was ripping and the frustration could be felt from the sidelines. But she kept getting the ball through the defense and taking shots on goal until a beautiful right footer hit the left corner of the net 15 minutes into the half. The Eagles led 1-0.
Hausner lost some of their wind briefly but did not let GISSV simply take it away for too long. They continued to put the pressure on and GISSV responded with a strong front to back defense to prevent an otherwise all-to-easy equalizer. The midfield of Anya K., Clara G., Anna K., Rosa B., and Lucy B., took a strong stand and returned the physicality that Hausner began showing in the second half. In the end, it was Clara G. again who, 5 minutes before the final whistle, gave the Eagles breathing room. In a tight series of offensive passes and defensive deflections inside the 16-meter, Clara took control of the ball and put it outside the Hausner Goalie’s reach again. The final score stood at 2-0 after 60 minutes of exciting soccer.
After much celebrating, the Coaches brought the team in for a final team chat. Coach Denkhaus called them in close and left them with this thought: “No matter what happens, this is your moment, forever. No one can take it from you.” And then there was a gleeful explosion of carbonated beverages all over Cubberley Field.